2011.03.16 A birth on the highway

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

I’ve been told that if I show up at the airport Wednesday night, I’ll find my wife there waiting for a ride home. I’ll be there, as long as she agrees to drive home.

Wednesday nights are traditionally my most tired. I remember falling asleep while reading stories to the kids on Wednesday nights. They would poke me to get me back on track. I’ll do the same for Colleen. In fact, I’ll pack a stick for that very purpose.

The last time I fetched her from the airport, the roads were extra slick with snow. I passed so many cars in the ditch along I-75, but at least we made it back before the Great Ice Storm began.

At that time, Colleen was just returning from a vacation in Little Rock. It wasn’t supposed to be a vacation. Our daughter, Rosanna, called about 6:30 on a Saturday morning to tell us the day had arrived. She was feeling labor pains. A baby was on its way.

Colleen bought a ticket to Little Rock and away we went. On the way to the airport, Rosie called and told us things had calmed down. In fact, she never felt a contraction the entire time Colleen was there. It was just a nice visit to Arkansas.

About two weeks later the next call came. This time it was the real thing, and there was more interesting weather.

Halfway to Toledo we heard on the radio that portions of I-75 and I-94 were closed due to freezing rain. Someone had died in an accident. My wife had a flight to catch. We never did encounter really slick roads, but we soon came upon a massive traffic jam that left Colleen fearing that she would never make her flight.

Our other daughter, Maddie, was visiting her sister during college spring break. I don’t think her vacation plans included being part of the delivery room crew, but there she was when the action began.

While Colleen and I were stuck in traffic, Maddie sent a running account via text messages.

“The animal bellowing has begun.”

“She’s on her knees.”

“Now she’s on her side.”

I’m thinking that Maddie probably didn’t know what she was getting herself into at this point. She made plans to visit Little Rock expecting to see a baby that was already born.

“I’m hiding in the corner.”

We were back up to about 45 m.p.h. when we received the message, “It’s a girl!”

I related this story to Mike MacLaren of the Michigan Press Association when he was pestering me about something last week. He knows me as the publisher who was once hung in effigy and he also brings up the standing joke about my need for column material. 

He called about some work needed on the annual newspaper contest (I’m the committee chair) and he suggested I could use that for a column.

He did come through with some material. He told me that he was attending a hearing in the capitol in Lansing one day when a colleague walked in and said loudly, “Mike MacLaren, your wife is in labor.”

That was his second child. For his first one, he lived in one of the Carolinas when Hurricane Hugo was approaching. Mike’s wife claims the drop in air pressure causes women to go into labor. The hospital was so crowded that the MacLarens were temporarily lodged in a broom closet.

I’ve been thinking about that story and I finally consulted Mr. Google this morning. I found several references to birth rates nine months after a hurricane. I learned that dolphin births have increased since Hurricane Katrina.

I learned that hurricane births are riskier due to distress. I found a statement by Wayne Griffin, associate director of the Counseling Center at the University of Florida, who said the surge in hurricane births is due to a basic and predictable human instinct.

What about women flying in airplanes or driving across mountain passes? someone asks. Someone else writes about the force of 200 Newtons and what effect that might have. 

I’m not convinced about the air pressure theory, Mike, but just to keep the discussion going I’ll point out that my granddaughter Caroline was born on the new moon, and you know there are always more births on the new moon.

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